Not Going to Wrap, Are You?

Maybe, if the situation calls for it.  And in Indonesia, the situation definitely calls for it.

Oh, no, not “rap.”  “Wrap,” with a “w.”  A completely different concept.  Now wrapping, that’s how many Southeast Asians combine varying textures and deliciously contrasting flavors in one convenient bite.  It fulfills much the same culinary purpose as do tacos throughout the Americas.  Or anywhere else people crave good food, for that matter.

The present entry starts with mildly sweet shrimp, then spurs the heat by marinating them in a spicy sambal-based sauce for fifteen minutes.  That seemingly-brief treatment is sufficient to give the shrimp a satisfying tingle, while maintaining the shellfish’s innately clean succulence.

Better yet, the shrimp isn’t by itself on the journey from plate to lettuce leaf (and from there to mouth!).  Fresh cucumber and mint provide crispness and a coolness that simultaneously moderates the sambal sauce’s heat while accentuating its flavor profile.  Also available are ground peanuts, which supply a satisfying crunch and savor.  Finally, there’s more sambal sauce, to bring an additional sprinkle of fire.  Or more, if that’s to your liking.

Bear in mind the vehicle (lettuce leaf) cools things as well, making the sauce a nice option.  Actually, all the ingredients are nice options, which, in combination, make this addictive.  Hungry or not, summer heat or not, each one brings obsession for the next.  Perhaps that’s what Bon Appetit meant when it offered “just a taste” in its August 2018 issue.

Isn’t that something rap is on about, those who push addictions?  Count this site among them, then.  However, don’t expect it to throw down a beat.  No rhythm, apparently.  The article doesn’t even rhyme.


Bibb Lettuce Wraps with Sambal Shrimp

  • 1/2 cup sambal oelek (*1)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds large shrimp
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 heads of Bibb lettuce leaves, separated, covered and chilled
  • 1/2 cup mint sprigs
  • 1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts, salted

In a small bowl, whisk together the chili paste, honey, vinegar and the sesame oil.

Meanwhile, shell the shrimp and season both sides with salt.  Place the shrimp in a zip-top bag and pour half the sambal sauce.   Reserve the other half for serving.

Force out as much air as possible and marinate for 15 minutes, flipping bag occasionally.  Remove the shrimp from the marinade, thread onto skewers and grill until just cooked, about three minutes a side.

Serve alongside cucumber slices, mint sprigs, crushed peanuts, reserved sambal sauce and lettuce leaves for wrapping.


1 – Sambal is ideal, of course, though any variety of Asian hot sauce, such as sriracha, will do.  In a pinch, even “regular” hot sauce is possible.


78 thoughts on “Not Going to Wrap, Are You?

    1. Yes she is, and she recommends the best sites too, doesn’t she? I may have found yours someday. Perhaps.

      Instead, Kate expedited things nicely by recommending you, and now my life’s better for it.

      So, you discovered my true first name? It took some people years to collect that information, yet you had it within, what, weeks?

      Resourceful. Inspiring, Msededeng!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe my persistence in finding who you paid off. Yes, she’s awesome!
        She also says that you are very good with words and can arrange words nicely, but I see what she meant.
        Nice to meet you Keith! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Likewise, Msededeng!

        That’s what’s so awesome about the internet – all these satisfying connections we make. Quite impossible even thirty years ago.

        Now instant friendship awaits – just add words.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. the ability to combine music with food is not something many master … unless its a classic 🙂 I love wraps, minus the seafood!

    I’ve been torturing poor Msdedeng on how to find your blog … she wants to ask if she can blend your comment into her last post. Now I see she has already liked this post … maybe she is shy. Whatever I haven’t given her a direct link as that would be too easy and she wont learn to navigate her way around WP … whatever go over and chat to the lady please?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Actually, Msededeng found the site a couple weeks ago. WP requires me to fill in my website information before commenting on other sites and that’s likely where she made the discovery. I appreciate all the efforts you’ve made in this area, Kate, including cluing me in to Mesdedeng’s page in the first place.

      The wraps still would be pretty good without the shrimp, and there are a fair number of plant-friendly (and culturally-appropriate) substitutions, including candlenuts (macadamias here in the States), sambal- and soy-marinated rice noodles, and even cucumbers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Macadamia groves, Kate? Macadamia groves! Jackpot!

        I always associate macadamias with Hawaii, but why not with your home too? Much like the Aloha State, you skirt the tropics, just from a different reach of the Pacific.

        Well, if I have anything to say about it, macadamias will find their way to these pages from time to time.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Fascinating, Kate, how two Anglophones attach different meanings to the same English word.

        Here in the States, “grove” carries no inherent limitations. Thus, we speak of Florida’s orange groves as stretching between horizons, and beyond.

        The word’s original meaning, “a small cluster of trees” soon came to mean, in the US, “ANY group of trees.” Sure, we also use “orchard” (“paddock,” frankly, not so much), but “grove” is utilized more.

        The most flattering interpretation? It has something to do with Possibility’s boundless expanse.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Much appreciated, Crystal!

      Of course, I’m nearly as enthusiastic about shellfish as I am about poultry. Let’s just say, then, I’m well-motivated to display it to advantage. Why, the anticipation may rival realization. Almost.


      1. Happy to be guilty as charged, Crystal.

        Of course, when my time comes and I move on to what’s next, how will the Almighty appear? If it turns out God is a Giant Shrimp, I’m gonna have some ‘splainin’ to do!


    1. Randall’s Buick?

      Tony Randall, right? It’s what Felix Ungar would’ve used to ferry supplies back to the apartment to make Indonesian Lettuce Wraps. Sure would beat the stale sandwiches customarily served the guys gathered for poker night.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You know, it occurs to me that there has never been a great deal of sitcom watching in this household… I’m afraid I had to look up the reference. But yes, that’s a start. Now you just need to make a rap of that! 😄

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Rachel!

        “The Odd Couple” was a good decade or so before my time, and the movie that inspired it, even older yet. The Neil Simon play that begat it all? Years deeper into the past. Still, I caught the reruns in syndication.

        Instant point of reference, though, as my nickname at university was “Felix.” Not, as I would’ve like to have believed, because it’s the
        Latin word for “happy,” but because, much like Felix Ungar, I was (am?) a neat freak. A pretty good association, if you ask me, as the play and later movie/TV series were one of the last gasps of postwar optimistic consensus.

        To me, they’re satisfying to watch because, although the era and conventions are unmistakably modern, there’s still a practice of, and yearning for, an earlier formality. A time, within living memory for many, in which people still gussied up (suits and dresses) to fly. Think “Mad Men.”

        I suppose you’d have to be me to understand, but it just puts me in a happy place.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yet, Rachel, it’s the method by which your life acquires a certain poetry, and the verse to match. Perhaps the games keep your frontal lobes occupied, while the rest of your brain works on the poetry. Bet the sibs never considered that, did they?

        Tidy arrangement, that. Felix Ungar would approve. I do too.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a beautiful meal and it looks like it comes together fairly easily! What a great way to use mint. I feel like I’ve mostly been using it to infuse water lately. I need to be using it in more dishes like this one!

    We haven’t had shrimp in a while either. I just did our grocery order for the coming week but I’ll have to work some into the menu soon. Honestly, I’ve been planning a lot of our meals lately based on what comes in our produce deliveries. Related, I really need a magic recipe that removes all bitterness from radicchio. (Can I put in a request for a future post? hahaha)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Summer! Actually, mint is a pretty common add-in throughout Southeast Asia, from Vietnam to Indonesia, and everywhere in between. You figure, inhabitants there have to put up, year-round, with the sort of heat we get only for a couple months. Therefore, to their advantage to highlight anything with cooling properties.

      Radicchio? That’s a tough one. How about dusting it with cayenne powder? That wouldn’t remove the bitterness as much as it would distract from it. If your preparation will admit fruit, you also may want to consider mango to balance what remains of the bitterness. What do you think, Summer?

      As for the shrimp, I started stocking up on bags of the frozen as soon as the grocery-depleting mobs started stirring. You figure, if you’re inland, all seafood is frozen between the fishing boat and you anyway, even if the fishmonger thaws it before putting it in the case. That way, any time I get a hankerin’, I transfer a bag from the freezer to the fridge a day ahead of time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. OK Summer, fair enough.

        Last try, I promise, but how about honey? The sweetness would negate much of the the radicchio’s bitterness, and the syrupy thickness would smother the bitterness’s sharpest attacks.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, honey helped! It was one of the things I tried. I also soaked the leaves in cold water, grilled them, and sauced them up with a nice orange juice/honey combo (so basically acid plus sweetness). These things made it edible but the bitterness was still overwhelming to my son. This is why I am considering boiling it to death… I’m thinking I could do that instead of the cold water soak.

        OK, really, I’m just hoping I don’t get much more radicchio in my deliveries. My creativity is running out. lol

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ah, I’d forgotten a supertaster is in the mix. That’d explain going toe-to-toe with bitterness, too. The maternal protective instinct.

        Sorry I ran out of useful ideas, too. You see, I have little real experience with radicchio, as, frankly, I don’t like it. The bitterness no doubt. Why wince when so many other leafy greens offer their services?

        You aren’t so fortunate, though, as you have no say over what Misfits sends you.

        Summer knows her way around the kitchen. Yet, Misfits, you still see fit to test these skills every once in a while. Haven’t we been through this, like, a thousand times already? Every time, though, Summer wins. Each and every time.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Hey, botanists crossed lemons with mandarins and gave the world Meyer lemons. Is it too much trouble, Science-Types, to cross radicchio and, say, Boston lettuce?

        Probably not, so it looks like we’re stuck with radicchio. That’s too bad, as my appreciation for veggies has increased dramatically in adulthood, yet I can’t seem to get my head around this one. Oh well, on to any one of 17,654 other leafy options.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Some people do like radicchio “as is,” though.

        Which makes we wonder, Summer, is there a little bit of supertaster in most of us? From what you’ve told me, I gather your son isn’t particularly fond of radicchio either, which destroys my original theory that, perhaps, only supertasters liked it.

        Very well, then, let’s go at it from the other side. Maybe those who like the red stuff have taste buds a bit less sensitive than are those most people have. Maybe radicchio is a hit only with the Taste-Bud-Muted.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yes, I think you’d have to be extremely insensitive to bitter if you love radicchio. Even I find it difficult to love! No one is a fan here. When we lost power, I decided I did not mind too much if the radicchio I had in the fridge spoiled on us. lol

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I know boxwood keeps the deer away, Summer, and it’s quite possible the same could be said of radicchio. Problem is, what do you do with all the surplus when you put the garden to sleep for the winter? Too much of the stuff in the compost bin, and next year’s crops are bound to have unfortunate bitter overtones

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Ha, you poor thing!

        Hey, did you ever watch “Good Eats” (Alton Brown’s long-time TV series)? One of the running gags involved Brown’s neighbor Mr. MacGregor (“Farmer” MacGregor, get it?) who grew so much zucchini, he left bushels of it every day on Brown’s front porch.

        Have you ever considered a similar approach to radicchio? Swaddle the red orbs as you would a baby, leave them on someone’s front doorstep, ring the doorbell, and run away. More laughs for you, and less radicchio.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. It was zucchini in a few episodes. In others, Neighbor MacGregor’s surplus was in tomato format. Even better.

        Did you ever consider, Summer, you may have been the victim of a Ding-and-Ditch scheme yourself?

        “Whoever’s going to eat all this radicchio? Nobody even likes the stuff.”

        “Here, throw them in these boxes.”

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Coincidentally, I just found out they are going to begin giving us choices with our boxes! Maybe others were tired of getting things they really did not like as well. So hopefully this will be the last of the radicchio. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      11. This week FedEx notified me that my veggie box was damaged and would not be shipped 😦 No veggies at all might be what is worse than the unwanted radicchio! I guess this week I’m really making all of the decisions regarding which veggies we get!

        Liked by 1 person

      12. What a world, Summer! Can you imagine us having a conversation like this, even, six months ago?

        Do you have any other options, such as your garden’s last hurrah? With all the power outages you had a month ago, I imagine your freezer is bereft of supplies by this point too. Too bad no-one in your household is a mycologist, or a-foraging you’d go.

        By the way, if you tell me you’re a mycologist too, I give up. You already have way too much talent for one person, and if you count mushroom-divining among your skills too…

        Liked by 1 person

      13. We’ve foraged for mushrooms before with a mycology club but did not eat our finds. It was more about learning to identify things.

        I did a regular grocery delivery and just ordered a few more fruits and veggies. I can usually make our weekly menus work, but some weeks have proven a greater challenge than others.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. That makes sense, about the club not eating its harvest. In our litigious society, everything’s a potential liability. In fact, I’m a little surprised even honest-to-goodness mycologists will take people out mushroom-hunting anymore.

        You’re a wonder, Summer, making meals from the random supplies you get in the mail. So far, radicchio’s been the only difficulty, and even then, you tried and you tried. Everything else, though, came up a winner. Was the produce really that good, or was it the cook? The latter, for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. At 73 with years of un-healthy cooking behind me, my chubby little body is screaming for low fat, low fat, low fat. My mother fried everything and I followed suit. Now we are needing to lose weight and since the winters are so long and one is shut in a lot I am looking forward to trying new dishes. So I will be back to gleam from you. Looking forward to trying some of your dishes, if that is ok with you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hope so!

      Not always heathy, to be sure, but usually fun, I hope. Plus, other readers have been known to encourage a healthier pursuit.

      Please check back from time-to-time. Lots of good things planned.


    1. Good idea, Sam. What would you say to something coconut cream-based?

      Maybe…let’s see…mix coconut cream, soy sauce and lime juice. Reckon that would work.

      After all, gotta keep things to a cultural set when we’re not doing fusion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Possibly, Kally, though citrus also has been known to do things to shrimp it it’s kept on too long.

        Of course, I defer to your experience. As nowhere on the Malay Peninsula is very far from the sea, you must have all the fresh shrimp you desire. As we’re hundreds of kilometers inland, all shrimp has been frozen at some point before reaching us.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah true. Our prawns are usually alive even when they delivered to the markets. We can even order directly from prawn farms and they will deliver in an oxygenated tank where the prawns will still be jumping up and down.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh Kally, I’m quite envious right now. What an experience! Lively shrimp, which also means, still being in possession of their heads, of course. That’s something we rarely get in the States, except right on the coasts.

        Although, years ago, I bought for my father on Father’s Day live blue crabs, shipped directly from the Chesapeake (a large estuary here in the eastern US, near DC). When my parents opened the box, the cat had to investigate, of course, until the crabs started moving and brandishing their pincers!

        Apparently, he (the cat) spent the rest of the evening peering cautiously at the box from around a corner a couple meters away.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. We’re much too far north for prawn farms to be practical. There are some far to the south, bust most of the prawns we get here must be frozen to preserve their quality. Little matter – when they’re frozen quickly (flash-frozen) they’re still really good when they thaw.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Possibly, Kally, though their response likely would be, “Back to your table, Sir, and stop bothering the chefs. Off you go”

        Although…most restaurants acquire their ingredients in the city’s commercial market district. There, among all the other amazements, are prawns with their heads intact..even live creatures in tanks.

        Oh yes, Kally, I’ve seen the wonderland, However, as it involves fighting the traffic to get into the central city – and good luck finding parking once you get there – it remains a once-a-year indulgence. In the meantime, I’ll savor your descriptions,

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Ah yes. I know all about fighting traffic and hunting for that parking space that is rarer than a unicorn galloping on a rainbow. That is why I avoid going to the city central too. Wise choice!!

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Glad you understand, Kally. Sure what’s available in restaurant wholesale markets may be marginally better than what’s available closer to home, but is it mountains-of-stress better?

        For me, it usually isn’t. Once every year or so is enough to keep me happy.

        In addition to the traffic, parking, etc., there are the bizarre street signs.

        “What? What is that even supposed to mean? This makes no sense.”

        Liked by 1 person

      8. You, my dear friend, need to come over to Malaysia (when the pandemic is over, of course) and I will treat you to a HUGE seafood dinner. Prawns, crayfish, crabs! Finger smacking kind of dinner. Lol!

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Invitation gladly accepted and anticipated, Kally. Question is, can I make it until COVID runs out of steam? Come on, vaccine, any day now.

        In the meantime, you’ve a standing invitation to enjoy all this site offers, even if vicariously. Maybe one thing or another will inspire your imagination. Everything else, “Why, Keith? Oh, why?”

        By the way, the feast you propose sounds incredible. You’ve seen by now how much I love shellfish…and Southeast Asia’s cuisine, yes ma’am!

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Haha. The invitation stands anytime for you, bud. I shall not torture you with delicious steaming seafood photos like our black pepper crabs, seafood soup, garlic prawns and when you get tired of asian food, we’ll always have the butter mussels.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Why, thanks, Kally!

        Me, get tired of Asian cuisine? Impossible.

        After all this time, it feels like I haven’t even begun to explore. Regarding the foods you enjoy, photographs may not be necessary; just your description alone make my stomach growl!

        Liked by 1 person

      12. Well, Kally, the pandemic did totally upend vacation plans, which originally were set for May. In fact, I had planned a couple entries when I returned, describing what I experienced. Once the pandemic ends, time to hit the “Reset” button.


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